Article

The Built Environment, Climate Change, and Health

National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, CDC, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.
American journal of preventive medicine (Impact Factor: 4.53). 12/2008; 35(5):517-26. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.017
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

The earth's climate is changing, due largely to greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity. These human-generated gases derive in part from aspects of the built environment such as transportation systems and infrastructure, building construction and operation, and land-use planning. Transportation, the largest end-use consumer of energy, affects human health directly through air pollution and subsequent respiratory effects, as well as indirectly through physical activity behavior. Buildings contribute to climate change, influence transportation, and affect health through the materials utilized, decisions about sites, electricity and water usage, and landscape surroundings. Land use, forestry, and agriculture also contribute to climate change and affect health by increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, shaping the infrastructures for both transportation and buildings, and affecting access to green spaces. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected with regard to transportation, buildings, and land use, and are most at risk for experiencing the effects of climate change. Working across sectors to incorporate a health promotion approach in the design and development of built environment components may mitigate climate change, promote adaptation, and improve public health.

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    • "These differences underscore the importance of investigating transportation decisions in smaller cities and their implications for both local and regional planning. If the built environment were altered to increase physical activity and to reduce automotive vehicle miles traveled[34], co-benefits of reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions would arise[35,36]. Pitkin and Myers[37]point out that as baby boomers age it would be wise to plan for " smart reuse " of existing land uses, including improved efficiency of built environment design for reduced need to drive. Changes might be easier during periods of growth, when change in local infrastructure is likely to be occurring anyway, as well as during periods of decline, when such alterations might increase marketability or usability of existing land uses and patterns. "

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